Skip to content

Football League: Who did the best business in the January transfer window?

Derby striker Darren Bent celebrates after scoring against Blackburn
Image: Darren Bent was one of Derby's January signings

With the transfer window closed, Sky Sports pundit Peter Beagrie takes a look back at the moves that made headlines in the Football League and the biggest talking points.

Derby add vital experience

Tom Ince of  Hull City ahead of the pre-season friendly match between York City and Hull City at Bootham Cresent on July 23, 2014
Image: Tom Ince: Joined Derby on loan from Hull

Derby have tried various things this year, like going in for Matt Phillips and Junior Hoilett at QPR, and they have strengthened very well.

They have brought in Tom Ince, who was brilliant in the Championship for Blackpool; have already got Darren Bent, who hit the ground running and is a direct replacement for Chris Martin or partner if they want to change their shape; and Jesse Lingard, who did well initially when he went out on loan to Brighton and can play from a wide position or down the middle.

They have also gone for experience at the business end of the season in Stephen Warnock and Ryan Shotton, two Premier League players who are great signings for them.

Of all the clubs in the Championship, Derby have done the best business and I haven’t even mentioned a couple of the foreign guys they have brought in as well. It makes total sense as far as Steve McClaren is concerned. They do not want to be left disappointed by missing out on automatic promotion and have the lottery of the play-offs like they did last year against QPR.

Gray area

Image: Demarai Gray: Birmingham were unwilling to sell

The big one that didn’t happen was Bournemouth not being able to get Demarai Gray. I am surprised Birmingham didn’t sell him but they may have been looking at the money that was being touted for Dele Alli in League One. However, even though Gray is playing at Championship level I don’t think he is in Alli’s class. 

For Bournemouth I don’t think it is a negative as such, he was more long term, rather than medium, because Matt Ritchie and Marc Pugh are playing brilliantly out wide and have more of a goal threat than him as far as I am concerned. It would have been nice but they still have four genuine wide players to pick from.

Boro not resting on laurels

Wigan Athletic's Adam Forshaw
Image: Adam Forshaw: Left Wigan for Middlesbrough

Adam Forshaw joined Middlesbrough as part of the fire-sale going on at Wigan at a time when you think they should be strengthening and keeping their best players. They have been fighting at the bottom and big things were expected of Forshaw after a multi-million pound move from Brentford, where he was an absolute colossus.

He is a midfield player who drives forward, scores goals, is very competitive, strong and brave. When the going gets tough he doesn’t mind getting on the ball and expressing himself.

FL72 Review

I don’t see him going straight into the team at Middlesbrough as they seem to have a plethora of talent in that area. Grant Leadbitter is having his best goalscoring season so far and is captain, Adam Clayton has been brilliant since his move from Huddersfield and there is also Dean Whitehead for competition, so Forshaw has his work cut out to force his way into the side.

But he is a genuine talent and the time to strengthen is when you are at the top, you can’t rest on your laurels. You just need one or two injuries or suspensions and you find yourself wishing you had been more active in the market for the top players. Boro are probably looking towards the summer, Adam having a good pre-season and taking it from there.

Yakubu a gamble worth taking

Image: Yakubu: Signed for Reading

It depends what physical shape he is in, but I think Yabubu is tremendous. He has 114 goals for the five English clubs he has played for and is the second-highest African goalscorer with 95 behind Drogba. He is an out-and-out goalscorer who can hold the ball up and Reading have lacked that really. 

Glenn Murray did a good job while on loan from Palace but Pavel Pogrebnyak is not that type of player, Adam Le Fondre has gone and it hasn’t really happened for Simon Cox, so why not have a gamble on the Yak? I can’t see him costing them much and he will be looking to do a job for them.

Miller leaves sinking Seasiders

Image: Ishmael Miller: Joined Huddersfield

Blackpool has been a debacle this year with everything that has gone on off the pitch and I feel sorry for the manager and the players who have been involved with the club.

Now Ishmael Miller has gone to Huddersfield by default because he was due a wage increase if he plays any more games for Blackpool.

That is no way to run a football club, you invest in players and you want them to play as much as they can and to be rewarded for doing well, but when the club as a whole is not doing well and it’s your fault, as the hierarchy, then there are players who are getting pushed out to other clubs because of it.

Miller has been to West Brom, Boro and Forest and is somebody who initially makes an impact. Huddersfield will be hoping that in a season when they have not hit the heights he can add an extra dimension after they lost Danny Ward to Rotherham.

Ishmael might be the one to get a starting position in place of Ward or make an impact from the bench with his pace and wonderful left foot.

He is much-travelled and has maybe underachieved for his physicality and ability. If a manager can get him to shine then he will have a hell of a player on his hands.

Blades have Done good

Image: Matt Done: Made the move to Sheffield United

Sheffield United have strengthened well in this window. With the help of their Derby connections they have got Paul Coutts and Kieron Freeman, as well as John Brayford - defensive players that can play full-back and centre-back too.

Matt Done, who they have signed from Rochdale, is similar to Jamie Murphy; he is a wide player really, but he can play up the middle and has played there with incredible success for Rochdale. He looks a quality acquisition.

With Chris Porter going out and Michael Higdon not quite there yet I would still have liked them to have a physical presence, but Done is already scoring goals in the division and it makes sense for Rochdale because it is obviously a decent fee.

He is going to a tremendous club who have had incredible success over the past 12 months or so and who get great home support. He will flourish on Sheffield United’s big wide open spaces and will have chances created for him by Murphy and Jamal Campbell-Ryce, who will give him the service he requires.

Grimes a good fit for Swans

Image: Matt Grimes: Stepped up to the Premier League

Matt Grimes is a lovely footballer but I didn’t expect him to make the jump straightaway from Exeter City to Premier League football. He is very well balanced, tall, has great passing range, is a good striker of the ball - deadly from set-pieces as well - and I think Swansea have got a tremendous player long term.

They will probably look at him in pre-season against decent class opposition and he may go out on loan at the top end of League One or Championship perhaps and Swansea will pick and choose the teams.

That’s the benefit of being a Premier League side and having teams clamouring for the youngsters who are in the U21s. You can dictate which club he goes to depending on what your style of football is.

He is a tremendous player and has had a brilliant 18 months. He has been in England U20s with Premier League players so is highly regarded at international level.

Around Sky